Buckwheat Honey

Buckwheat Honey
Buckwheat honey

Buckwheat honey is often considered a byproduct of harvesting the seeds produced by buckwheat. Buckwheat seeds are used similar to grains and can be ground for flour. Their hulls/husks (capsule the seed is held in) are used as stuffing in hypoallergenic pillows and other products. Buckwheat honey is used to make sauces, and as a sweetener, in France, it’s a primary ingredient in gingerbread making.

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    What Is Buckwheat Honey?

    Buckwheat honey is a monofloral honey produced by honey bees harvesting and converting the buckwheat flowers nectar into honey.

    Buckwheat honey should be dark. The darker the honey, the higher the buckwheat content that it contains.

    Honey bee Extracting Nectar Of Common Buckwheat
    Honey bee extracting nectar of common buckwheat

    Where Does Buckwheat Honey Come From?

    Within the US this type of honey is produced in states like Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

    Outside of the US, it is often produced in Canada, France, Poland, Siberia and Latvia.

    What Does Buckwheat Honey Taste Like?

    Typically, buckwheat honey tastes like molasses (black treacle). Overall, it has a subdued sweetness and a strong flavour profile that is characterised by musty and malty notes.

    The taste of buckwheat honey can vary depending on the particular subspecies of buckwheat that the bees pollinate during the honey-making process. The aroma of buckwheat honey could be described as woodsy.

    How Is Buckwheat Honey Produced?

    Buckwheat honey is predominantly produced when raising and harvesting buckwheat for its seeds, and typically farmers will invite beekeepers and apiaries to position near their buckwheat crop. They do this because bees play a crucial role in pollinating their crop, and a byproduct of this is the production buckwheat honey. 

    When bees are not used as pollinators, seed yield is very low – only 2 to 3% of the yield typically achieved when bees are present. Production predominantly happens early in the year when buckwheat flowers bloom. When a colony is located near a field of flowering buckwheat, they can gather nearly 300 lbs of nectar per acre.

    But how do the honey bees produce the buckwheat honey?

    The moment the honey bee collects the buckwheat nectar, it is mixed with an enzyme within the bees mouth. The enzyme itself is known as invertase or the “bee enzyme” which is secreted from the bee’s glands. When the honey bees return to the hive, they will pass the buckwheat nectar they have collected between themselves further mixing the nectar with the “bee enzyme”.

    This will reduce the water content converting the nectar into honey. They will then deposit the buckwheat honey into wax cells, but at this point, the water content may be too high. To reduce the water content, the honey bees will fan their wings above the wax cell, this, in turn, will evaporate some of the water.

    Once they’ve finished the process, the honey will have a water content roughly below 20%. It will then be capped, and the honey bees will repeat the process all over again.

    Honey Pacifica - Buckwheat Honey
    Honey Pacifica - Buckwheat Honey

    The Best Environment for Producing Buckwheat Honey

    Almost all of the buckwheat honey that is produced for commercial sale is farmed by beekeepers who are located close to commercial farming operations where buckwheat is grown. Buckwheat farmers rarely need to use supplemental pollination as a part of their operation, so migrant hives are rarely part of the process.

    Buckwheat honey is not often considered a lucrative honey product, so commercial honey farmers rarely seek buckwheat out as a monofloral source for their hives. Buckwheat is most commonly grown in temperate regions, and it does well in relatively short growing seasons.

    That makes it an important source of winter feed for hives that are located in areas where winters tend to be longer.

    Benefits of Buckwheat Honey?

    Healing Wounds and Burns There has been positive effects of using raw honey on wounds & burns reported.
    Reducing The Duration of Diarrhoea According the NCBI consumption of raw honey has been shown to reduce the severity & duration of diarrhoea.
    Preventing Acid Reflux Research has shown that with honey lining the oesophagus and stomach, it actually can reduce the upward flow of undigested food and stomach acid.
    Fighting Infections Scientists in 2010 reported that honey through its protein (defensin-1) has the ability to kill bacteria.
    Relieving cold and cough symptoms Its been proven that honey may prove beneficial in relieving cold and cough symptoms. The World Health Organisation actually recommend honey as a natural cough remedy.
    Rich In Antioxidants High quality raw honey contains many helpful antioxidants. These include phenolic compounds like flavonoids and organic acids.
    Can Lower Triglycerides Triglycerides are associated with insulin resistance and are a major driver of type 2 diabetes. Multiple studies have linked regular honey consumption with lower triglyceride levels, especially when it is used to replace sugar.

    This is based on raw honey, filtered or pasturised honey will break down and diminish these benefits.

    Is Buckwheat Honey an Antiseptic

    Like all honies, buckwheat honey is a natural antiseptic, but it is richer in antioxidants and other compounds than other honies.

    To treat wounds, buckwheat honey can be applied directly to wounds and then covered with a bandage. It has been shown to draw excess moisture out of wounds to help speed healing and to effectively combat the spread and proliferation of bacteria.

    Rear View Of Honeybee Pollinating Persicaria Flower
    Rear view of honey bee pollinating persicaria (knotweed) flower - from the buckwheat family

    Buckwheat Honey vs Regular Honey

    Buckwheat honey is most commonly sold in its raw form. That means that it retains the bee pollen, propolis, and other beneficial compounds that are typically removed by fine filtering or destroyed by pasteurisation during the processing that regular honey goes through.

    In a raw state, buckwheat honey will naturally contain many if not all of the benefits listed above. Buckwheat honey is typically dark with a distinct flavour profile that has been compared to that of molasses (black treacle). In comparison, regular honey will hold that somewhat industrial standard taste and tends to be missing crucial benefits and nutritional properties of raw honey.

    This is typically due to “regular” mass-produced honey being fine filtered and pasteurised. Which, unfortunately, destroys many of the antibacterial and active elements. Research shows that the processing of honey can reduce antioxidant levels by up to (and even more than) 30%. The reduction of these antioxidant reduces aster honey’s effectiveness as an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent.

    When You Should Avoid Buckwheat Honey

    You should avoid buckwheat honey if you have any allergies that may make you sensitive to either honey or buckwheat seeds. If you have an allergy to bees and you are unsure if you will react to honey, you should consult with your doctor.

    Furthermore, raw honey of any kind, including buckwheat honey, should never be given to a child under a year old. This is because raw honey can cause a rare but serious disease (Infant Botulism) caused by a specific type of bacteria. When children are a year old or older, they usually have more robust immune systems, and the risk of eating raw honey is reduced.

    The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends the following dosages:

    • Children 2 to 5: 2.5 ml
    • Children 6 to 11: 5 ml
    • Children 12 to 18: 10 ml

     

    It is important to note that due to trace amounts of bacteria, children under a year old should abstain from consuming honey.

    Honey Bee Pollinating Buckwheat
    Honey bee pollinating buckwheat

    Is Buckwheat Honey Vegan?

    The Vegan Society do not consider honey vegan, this includes cornflower honey. They believe that because some honey farmers replace honey with a sugar substitute when harvesting, it will naturally lack the essential micronutrients of honey, thus being detrimental to the honey bees.

    Furthermore, they believe that in conventional beekeeping, honey bees are specifically bred to increase productivity. Which they believe leads to a narrowing of the population gene pool and increases susceptibility to disease and large scale die-offs.

    They also believe that many honey farmers will cull their hives post-harvest and clip the queen bee’s wings to stop them from leaving to start a new colony. Thus the Vegan Society does not consider honey vegan. That, of course, doesn’t stop some vegans arguing its fine if they source their honey from reliable sources that do not practice the above.

    Is Buckwheat Honey Expensive?

    Typically, in the US prices range from $4 to $5 per 100g and in the UK £1.50 to £2.50 per 100g.

    Buckwheat honey is often purchased online as it is hard to find buckwheat honey in stores or at farmer’s markets unless you live in a region where buckwheat is cultivated commercially.

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